Candidate - Mayor of Highlands East
The Haliburton Echo sent the candidates for Highlands East council the following questions.
1. Provide an introduction to yourself. (This could be about how you came to the area, your hobbies and interests, family life, education, accomplishments.)
I have been the Reeve/Mayor of Highlands East for the past 12 years. We have accomplished many goals in that time. I have been the Warden of Haliburton County for 3 terms, as well as being the Chair of the Eastern Ontario Wardens Caucus. I have also been the chair of the Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) for 8 years. I am currently the 3rd Vice President of the Ontario Good Roads Association and have been an active member for 5 years.
Previous to this I served 2 terms on a Municipal council, was the President of the Wilbermere Lake Association for 5 years, President of the Algonquin Gateway Business Association, President of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 624 and still continue as chaplain. I was an active member of the Highlands East Fire Department for 15 years. But at the very root of all my experience I was a business Owner and Operator within the community.
2. What is the most important issue facing Highlands East today? As a council member, how would you address that issue?
We need to focus on protecting our most important assets, our lakes, rivers, and streams. We will continue to work with agencies such as, Cottage Associations, C.H.A., and Shoreline preservation to protect our lakes and waterways.
We do not have enough jobs to attract young families and we have a housing shortage. I plan to continue working towards streamlining municipal regulations to bring affordable housing to Highlands East as well as working with the Economic and Business committee to continue to help our local businesses flourish. We need to look at alternative solutions for Highlands East, as bigger is not not always better.
We will keep working with the Age Friendly Master Plan and continue to work towards an all age community.
Our main goal with all of these issues is educate, educate, educate.
3. Do you support regulating short-term rentals? Explain why or why not.
I support some form of regulation however, after receiving feedback from the community we need more public consultation to determine the best method for Highlands East in order to address the main concerns that affect us all (Environment Social, Health & Safety, and Fire).
I understand people do not want more regulations however; we need to work towards ensuring all individuals are able to safely and harmoniously enjoy their investment in our community.
4. What are the barriers to economic development in Highlands East? What can council do to grow the local economy and attract new business to the area?
We have, to this point, been unable to attract skilled labour to our community. We are a very rural area and that in itself is a challenge. This includes being in an area where we have to travel long distances for basic services. We also lack the required infrastructure, such as water and sewer, to expand things like our seniors complex.
If we all work together collectively we can help our community prosper.
5. What are Highlands East’s strongest tourism assets? What could council do to improve tourism in the municipality?
We are lucky to have a beautiful community and natural attributes such as forests, lakes, and green spaces. We have a huge draw to the area for Geocaching and mineral collection. These things combined with an outstanding trails system for all seasons make Highlands East a destination for all areas.
Council plans to continue our efforts to improve our tourism by continuing to promote it. We will also continue to stand behind our local businesses with our Buy Close By Campaign. We have received grants for new signage in the community and have completed the Business Retention and Expansion Study. We have proceeded to implement the recommendations through the Strategic Plan.
The Haliburton Echo sent the mayoral candidates for Highlands East council the following questions.
1. Do you favour the concept of an amalgamated, single-tier government for Haliburton County? What would the advantages of such a system be, or, conversely, what are the advantages of maintaining the existing two-tier system?
I am not opposed to looking at all ways of improving services to the municipality. All aspects should be considered including shared services. For now, perhaps, a county-wide service review should be considered first. Within this review looking for possible ways to provide services with the possibility of lower costs should be a consideration.
2. Is the county’s tourism strategy working? What are its strong points and weaknesses? Is there anything that could be done differently to attract more people to the Haliburton Highlands?
Our social media presence is well known. As well as our tourism website at myhaliburtonhighlands.com has a vast amount of information and considerable amount of traction with the online community.
Definite improvements to our overall tourism industry have been made and the county is on board with the “Buy Close By” initiative, helping to promote purchasing from local businesses instead of bringing such purchases from the city.
We need to focus on capitalizing on our greatest assets: community, the people, the environment, and keep moving in a positive progressive manner.
3. The county is currently in the process of strengthening its shoreline protection bylaw. What provisions and restrictions should be included to adequately protect the health of the county’s lakes?
Adequate enforcement is a necessity. We need to improve restrictions on what can be cut and removed from shorelines. It is also imperative to educate the public on why we need to preserve shorelines and the steps and measures we as a county are taking.
4. The issue of short-term rentals of private cottages continues to be a topic of discussion in the community. Should municipalities be implementing control measures on short-term rentals; why or why not? What does a responsible framework for the control of short-term rentals look like?
We are elected to listen to the community concerns and implement appropriate measures. There are many pros and cons to regulating short-term accommodations (STAs) and we need to listen to and assess all of these in due course.
The objective is to maintain health and safety, protect the environment, and preserve the social interactions, (neighbours), within the communities.
We would like to promote licensed STAs and take a positive approach that provides benefits to everyone involved.
5. The county has been working toward a public transportation plan, which has not yet been produced. Do you think the county should offer a public transportation service; why or why not? What would a sustainable transportation system look like?
With our aging population looking at a sustainable county-wide system of transportation is imperative. We need to think outside the box as it may not necessarily be a standard system of transportation for Haliburton County.
Sustainability may need to be measured in a variety of ways such as usage versus cost. A county-wide system will be difficult but we really do need something for all of our residents in the county, especially in Highlands East, with being so far removed from the bulk of essential services.